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Baby Steps: A Youth Ministry Step from Dr. Leo Marvin

Good Morning America: “Uh Bob, uh, tell us your impressions of Baby Steps.”

Bob: “Mash potatoes and gravy, Marie. I couldn’t be happier about Baby Steps. I was a terrible disaster and now, because of Baby Steps, I’m on TV in front of millions of people. I’m very excited.”

Dr. Leo Marvin’s book Baby Steps transformed the life of his patient Bob Wiley who was, in Dr. Leo Marvin words, “an almost-paralyzed, multiphobic personality who is in a constant state of panic.” Bob also claimed to have a rare case of Tourette’s Syndrome.

In the movie What About Bob Dr. Marvin gives Bob his new book and life-changing advice: Baby Steps. Bob is encouraged to stop obsessing about the huge issues that paralyze him with fear, and to start tackling the smaller things right in front of him that he can handle by taking one baby step at a time.

You may not be a multiphobic personality like Bob, but maybe you’re in need of a similar breakthrough. So often we’re encouraged to think big in youth ministry. We’re hired to increase numbers and to start youth ministry movements in our church and community. Many of us fear what will happen if we don’t produce. Will we make it longer than the youth worker before us did? With BIG PICTURE focus and mentality we risk ignoring the simple things that matter when it comes to leading students to Jesus. Sometimes we need to risk job security to do what is right in front of us and take necessary baby steps to a healthy, Jesus centered youth ministry, full of students who know they matter and are loved.

Elements of  youth ministry that paralyze…what-about-bob-TV-show-murray-dreyfuss

The pace of our youth ministry never slows down.
We have such a busy schedule that we are stuck planning week to week and never seem to get ahead.
We’re pushing as hard as we can and still not reaching youth ministry goals or expectations. We are expected to keep old youth ministry traditions and models alive.

4 youth ministry baby steps that will free us…

1. We can start each day in prayer, recommitting ourselves to the pursuit of God, and loving those he loves. Through prayer we focus on individual students not programs. Programs become our response to hearing God as we pray for individuals.

2. Keeping the main thing the main thing. Love, guide, and point students back to Jesus. Willingly we must let go of any events or programs that don’t point students to Jesus. We may need to lead a cultural shift. This means asking one important question no matter what we are planning — How does this help us point our students to Jesus?

3. Admit our weaknesses and look for people who will partner with us. The first baby step to reaching out to more students successfully might be admitting that communication is not our strength.

4. Give as much leadership to our student’s and volunteers as possible. Exchange being a ministry dominators for being a ministry facilitators. Facilitators encourage leaders to lead.

What baby steps are you taking to escape things that are paralyzing your ability to minister effectively?

– Theresa

One thought on “Baby Steps: A Youth Ministry Step from Dr. Leo Marvin

  1. Skye Kilbury

    Dr Leo Marvin amazing man love his work changed my life.

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